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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Screening room

Around Town: Holiday films, classic toons and Truffaut thrillers

December 22, 2011 |  5:02 am

Die hard
Cartoon classics and a double dose of “Die Hard” are among this week’s film highlights.

The American Cinematheque’s holiday screening series at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood continues with a Thursday presentation of Frank Capra’s 1946 classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Jimmy Stewart as a man contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve until his guardian angel makes a timely intervention. The film, which also stars Donna Reed and Gloria Grahame, will be digitally projected.

Friday at the Egyptian brings holiday fun of a different sort with a double feature of “Die Hard” (1988) and “Die Hard 2” (1990). Fans of wisecracking cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) might recall that both films — about bad guys taking over an office building in the former and an airport in the latter — take place at Christmastime. 

The Egyptian’s crosstown sister theater, the Aero in Santa Monica, will also show “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Friday and on 35mm film. The day before, the Aero presents a holiday double bill of Jon Favreau’s 2003 comedy charmer “Elf,” in which Will Ferrell plays a human who has been raised as an elf andhas a tough time adjusting to New York City, and the 1967 Delbert Mann caper “Fitzwilly,” starring Dick Van Dyke as a butler who moonlights as a thieving mastermind to keep his kindhearted employer afloat.

On Wednesday, the Aero kicks off a series of screwball comedy classics with a pair of films by Ernst Lubitsch: 1939’s “Ninotchka,” with Greta Garbo, and  1933’s “Design for Living,” with Fredric March and Gary Cooper. The director’s daughter, Nicola Lubitsch, will be on hand to introduce the films. www.americancinematheque.com

The New Beverly Cinema offers an opportunity to catch up on two gritty films from earlier in the year. First up is Nicolas Winding Refn’s neo-noir thriller “Drive,” starring Ryan Gosling as an icy wheelman, followed by Gavin O’Connor’s “Warrior, in which Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton play estranged brothers who face off in a mixed martial arts tournament.

On Wednesday, the New Beverly showcases Francois Truffaut's Hitchcockian side, screening a new 35mm print of his 1968 revenge tale “The Bride Wore Black,” starring Jeanne Moreau as a vengeful widow, alongside the suspense thriller “Mississippi Mermaid,” featuring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Deneuve. www.newbevcinema.com

The Alex Theatre presents its second annual Cartoon Hall of Fame on Monday. The program of classic toons features Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Superman and some less familiar faces. It will screen in the afternoon and again in the evening. www.alextheatre.org

The Cinefamily concludes its Kaneto Shindo retrospective this week with double features of the Japanese director’s films Thursday and Friday. Thursday begins with a new 35mm print of “The Naked Island” (1960), followed by “Lucky Dragon No. 5” (1959). Friday pairs “Onibaba” (1964) with “Tree Without Leaves” (1986).

The Cinefamily also will be showing the controversial Japanese film “Battle Royale,” directed by Kinji Fukasaku. The 2000 film about schoolchildren forced to fight to the death on a remote island  will run from Christmas Eve to Jan. 2. www.cinefamily.org

Tuesday the Downtown Independent hosts the Los Angeles premiere of “Non Compos Mentis: Or Jerry Powell and the Delusions of Grandeur,” a crime comedy by guerrilla filmmaker Mike Cuenca. www.downtownindependent.com


'Battle Royale': Making a killing in Japan

Classic Hollywood: 'Design for Living' on Blu-ray

'Drive' offers road thrills but loses some critics with gore

-- Oliver Gettell

Photo: Bruce Willis hunting bad guys in "Die Hard." Credit: Peter Sorel

Around Town: Rock operas, rebellion and round-the-clock film

December 15, 2011 |  5:50 am

"Tommy" will screen in downtown L.A.

The Cinefamily's round-the-clock fundraiser, UCLA's rock opera double feature and Jason Reitman's live reading of "The Princess Bride" are among this week's film highlights.

The UCLA Film & Television Archive concludes its three-month series L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema with two screenings at the Billy Wilder Theater. Friday’s program includes Alicia Dhanifu's 1979 short film "Bellydancing: A History & an Art" and Jamaa Fanaka’s 1976 feature "Emma Mae," starring Jerri Hayes. Dhanifu, Fanaka and Hayes will all attend.

On Saturday afternoon, the series offers a free matinee of Julie Dash's "The Rosa Parks Story," a 2002 biopic about the civil rights icon, and Charles Burnett's "Selma, Lord, Selma," a 1999 film based on the violent events of Bloody Sunday in 1965 Alabama. Dash will be on hand.

Later that evening, the L.A. Rebellion closing celebration will be held at the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum in Culver City. Filmmaker Ben Caldwell will perform his multimedia work "Spaces Looking In Looking Out." Admission is free.

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Around Town: Edgar Wright shows his stuff and aliens attack

December 8, 2011 |  5:16 am

A scene from "The Day the Earth Stood Still"

Aki Kaurismäki films, a 1950s sci-fi double feature and a program curated by Edgar Wright are among this week’s film highlights.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art shines a spotlight on the Finnish filmmaker Kaurismäki with screenings of two of his films Thursday evening. The first is 1992’s “La Vie de Bohème,” a deadpan comedy about three artists scratching out a living in Paris; the second, “Drifting Clouds” (1996), tells the story of a working-class couple trying to make ends meet after both lose their jobs.

On Saturday, LACMA will show the 1951 Hindi film “Awaara” (“The Vagabond”), directed by Raj Kapoor. A global star who died in 1988, Kapoor also produced the film and plays the lead role, a tramp who is ignorant of his upper-class heritage.

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Around Town: Steven Spielberg and a rare 'Trip to the Moon'

September 1, 2011 |  6:00 am

Steven Spielberg

The American Cinematheque is celebrating the early films of Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg this week. The Aero Theatre is featuring two of his sci-fi classics: 1982's blockbuster "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" -- this is the 2002 extended cut re-release not the original -- and his first foray into the sci-fi genre, 1977's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." And on Wednesday, the Egyptian presents the 40th anniversary screening of "Duel," the ABC TV movie that put Spielberg on the map as a filmmaker. Dennis Weaver stars in this lively thriller as a businessman driving on a stretch of deserted highway who suddenly finds himself being menaced by an unseen truck driver. The film did so well in the ratings it also had a brief theatrical release. Screening along with "Duel" is the automotive thriller "Vanishing Point," which is also celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. http://www.americancinematheque.com

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" also is this week's flick at the Outdoor Cinema Food Fest on Saturday evening at the Northridge City Little League. http://www.outdoorcinemafoodfest.com

One of the sensations of this year's Cannes Film Festival was the re-premiere of George Melies' seminal 1902 fantasy film, "A Trip to the Moon," which was featured in its newly restored, hand-colored version. The film will be screening Tuesday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theatre, along with several other silent goodies, including a restored "A Trip Down Market Street," a 1906 film shot in San Francisco just days before the famous earthquake hit. Tom Burton, head of the preservation department at Technicolor in L.A. who was in charge of the restoration of "Trip," and historian Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films, will be discussing the films. http://www.oscars.org

The Aero Theatre presents Joel and Ethan Coen's 1987 comedy "Raising Arizona" on Thursday evening. Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter play a married couple with baby fever who can't conceive and so decide to kidnap a tyke. http://www.americancinematheque.com

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Around Town: Ernie Kovacs, Joe Dante and 'Thelma & Louise'

August 25, 2011 |  6:00 am


A tribute to a late comic genius, a 20th anniversary of an Oscar-winning hit, and appearances from directors Joe Dante and Ron Shelton are among the cinematic highlights this weekend.

"In Kovacsland: Tribute to Ernie Kovacs," Saturday evening at the American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre, examines the work of the the innovative comic, who died in a car crash in 1962. During the 1950s and early '60s, Kovacs transformed TV comedy with his surreal camera tricks and crazy characters such as Percy Dovetonsils and the Nairobi Trio. Among those discussing Kovacs are Jeff Garlin, Harry Shearer and George and Jolene Brand Schlatter.

Over at the Cinematheque's Aero Theatre, director Joe Dante will discuss his work Thursday evening in between screenings of his films 1989's "The 'Burbs" and 1993's "Matinee." And on Friday, writer-director Ron Shelton will appear at the screenings of two of his sports comedies starring Kevin Costner: 1988's baseball romance "Bull Durham" and 1996's golf-featured "Tin Cup." http://www.americancinematheque.com

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Around Town: Peter Falk, rare Rainer Werner Fassbinder and more

August 18, 2011 |  5:10 am

Although he was best known for his Emmy Award-winning role as the rumpled detective Columbo, Peter Falk was also a Broadway star and a two-time Academy Award nominee. The American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre in Santa Monica celebrates the career of Falk, who died in in June at the age of 83, Wednesday evening with a double bill of Falk comedies: 1976's "Murder by Death" and the 1978 follow-up, "The Cheap Detective." 

The  Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood celebrates the 30th anniversary Sunday of Wolfgang Petersen's acclaimed World War II drama, "Das Boot." Following the screening, the film's production designer Rolf Zehetbauer, will discuss the film with Art Directors Guild President Thomas A. Walsh. www.americancinematheque.com

Don't Knock the Rock 2011, which has gotten its groove on for the past two months at the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre, presents the L.A. premiere of "Wheedle's Groove" and the world premiere of "The Jim Sullivan Story," Thursday evening. Later in the evening is the West Coast premiere of the documentary "The Ballad of Mott the Hoople." Saturday's offering is a "Don't Knock the Rock BMI Roundtable: Music in Film, TV and New Media 2011" and the word premiere of "Rhino Resurrected," about Rhino Records.

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Around Town: Cantinflas, Nicolas Pereda, Jean Harlow and more

August 11, 2011 |  5:00 am

Mario Moreno
A centenary celebration of a beloved Mexican film star and several anniversary screenings are among the highlights at L.A.'s movie revival houses this week.

The Cervantes Center of Arts and Letters is commemorating Mario Moreno, best known as Cantinflas, Friday at the Million Dollar Theater in downtown L.A. The evening will feature a screening of one of his earliest comedies "The Circus" from 1943. Cantinflas is best known in the U.S. for his role in the 1956 Oscar-winning film, "Around the World in 80 Days." http://www.milliondollartheater.com/CantinflasCentenario.html

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Around Town: Sean Penn, Jean Harlow, Seth Green and more

August 4, 2011 |  6:00 am

Sean Penn

The American Cinematheque welcomes Sean Penn, the UCLA Film & Television Archive celebrates the naughty early films of Jean Harlow and actor and "Robot Chicken" co-creator Seth Green programs the New Beverly Cinema this week.

Two-time Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn appears Thursday evening at the Cinematheque's Aero Theatre in Santa Monica for the 20th anniversary screening of his feature film directorial debut, "The Indian Runner," based on the Bruce Springsteen song "Highway Patrolman." Viggo Mortensen and David Morse star in this drama about the relationship between two brothers. Charles Bronson, Sandy Dennis and a young Patricia Arquette also star. 

The Aero also continues its "Lonely Places: A Nicholas Ray Centennial" celebration Friday evening with a double bill of the filmmaker's allegorical 1954 Western "Johnny Guitar," with Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden and Mercedes McCambridge, and the exceptional 1950 film noir "In a Lonely Place" with Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. Bogart also stars for Ray in the 1949 crime drama "Knock On Any Door," which screens Sunday with his 1956 thriller "Bigger Than Life."

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Around Town: Rock docs, disco tributes, sci-fi favorites and more

July 14, 2011 |  6:00 am


The American Cinematheque screens "Barry Lyndon," Stanley Kubrick's lavish 1975 epic, at the Egyptian Theatre on Thursday evening in Hollywood. The drama, based on William Makepeace Thackeray's novel, stars Ryan O'Neal in the title role and won four Academy Awards, including one for John Alcott's cinematography. On Friday, the Egyptian celebrates the 25th anniversary of David Cronenberg's revisionist take on the sci-fi classic "The Fly," starring Jeff Goldblum in the title role, with a screening that's part of a double bill with John Carpenter's 1982 film "The Thing." On Saturday, the Egyptian presents its yearly tiki celebration with a screening of the 1951 South Sea melodrama "Bird of Paradise," starring Debra Paget, Louis Jourdan and Jeff Chandler, in addition to live music and a fashion show.

The Cinematheque's Aero Theatre in Santa Monica celebrates the 1991 film "Hudson Hawk" on Thursday evening with special guests, including director Michael Lehman and writer Daniel Waters, schedules permitting. On Friday, the Aero kicks off its three-day centenary celebration of Ginger Rogers -- "Backwards and in High Heels" -- with two of her best musicals with Fred Astaire from 1936: "Swing Time" and "Follow the Fleet." On tap for Saturday are 1935's "Top Hat" and 1937's "Shall We Dance"; Sunday's offerings are 1934's "The Gay Divorcee" and 1938's "Carefree." http://www.americancinematheque.com

"The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye," a film about Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV founder Genesis P-Orridge and his unique relationship with his late wife, opens this year's "Don't Knock the Rock" music festival Thursday at the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre. The festival, founded by filmmaker Allison Anders and her daughter Tiffany Anders, runs through late August. Highlights include the world premiere of "Rhino Resurrected: The Incredibly Strange Story of the World's Most Famous Record Store."

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Around town: Crowd-pleasing films take over L.A.'s revival houses this weekend

June 30, 2011 |  6:00 am


If fireworks aren't your thing, don't fret -- there are plenty of crowd-pleasing films screening over the holiday weekend at Los Angeles' revival movie houses.

The American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood gets the weekend off to a rocking start Thursday with "Pink Floyd The Wall," Alan Parker's 1982 interpretation of the famed rock group's landmark concept album. The surreality continues Friday with 70-milliliter screenings of the 1982's "Tron" and James Cameron's 1991 sci-fi thriller "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."

Steven Spielberg's seminal 1975 summer blockbuster, "Jaws," with Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw and Roy Scheider, headlines the Egyptian's double bill Saturday evening paired with the fishy fun of Joe Dante's 1978 camp thriller "Piranha," penned by John Sayles. Jonathan Demme's 1984 concert film featuring acclaimed rock group Talking Heads, "Stop Making Sense," screens Sunday evening along with 1986's "True Stories," written, directed and featuring Talking Heads frontman David Byrne.

The Cinematheque's Aero Theatre continues its "Centennial Tribute to Composer Bernard Herrmann" Thursday evening with two thrillers that feature his memorable scores: Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 "Psycho" and John Brahm's 1945 shocker "Hangover Square" with Laird Cregar. Far less scary is Friday's double bill: 1975's "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and 1983's "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life."

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